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What's In Latex Gloves?  The Glove Nation Knowledgebase

Latex for Latex Gloves
Latex for Latex Gloves
Latex, of course. But we are going to look a little deeper. What is latex? How is it formed? What additives are used?

Latex is secreted by rubber trees when their bark is cut. The rubber sap is a natural bark repair mechanism that the rubber tree has. If the rubber sap is left exposed to the open air long enough, the sap will harden and will eventually heal the bark. In order to prevent the latex sap from hardening, special thinning agents are added to the sap soon after it is collected.

Rubber sap has been used to create latex products for more than 100 years now, so chemical engineers have learned to add phenols and other chemical agents to the sap before it is heated in vats so hand molds can be dipped into the liquid rubber. If the gloves are to be tinted, the dyes are usually added as the liquid rubber compound is being heated. Different manufacturers use different chemicals, adhering to closely-guarded formulae in order to achieve superior strength, elasticity and opacity.

The hand molds, with the latex "skins" still intact, are rinsed extensively in order to wash out some of the chemical agents which are designed to leach out as the latex cool-dries on the molds. The rinsing also helps to reduce the latex proteins which are responsible for most of the latex allergies.

The process is slightly different for powdered gloves versus powder free gloves, but generally the gloves are removed from the molds, then sterilized (sometimes they are sterilized before being removed, if the removal process is automated) and packed in boxes for shipping.

This is what goes into making the latex glove.